Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black and read by Lauren Fortgang

Summary from Goodreads:
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
Wow. I was obsessed with this book. I haven’t read Holly Black in a very long time (except for the books she co-writes with Cassandra Clare). I forgot how much I can lose myself in this author’s words. She can write about the strangest things (like a prince with horns in a glass coffin) and make everything feel not strange at all. Like, it’s totally believable that tourists come to this town to take selfies with the sleeping prince.
When I say “obsessed,” I mean it. I stayed out late in my car, in my driveway, finishing up chapters. I also took the last two discs inside to listen to at home, something I rarely do with audio books. I just had to keep listening at the end. So much action happens in the second half of the book.
I love how Black mingles together the world of magic (and dark fairies) with the normal world of mortals. I love books that do this, probably because a childish part of me still wishes for magic to be real. This book has me thinking it’s possible. I also love that this magic is dark and filled with monsters, bargains, changelings, and battles.
The world reminded me a little of the world of one of my favorite YA novels: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. Basically, there are some skeptics, but for the most part, people know magic is real and to be weary of the fey. What a fun, twisted world the characters of this town live in. And what a fun, twisted childhood the main character and her brother had.
The world-building is beautiful, but the character development is magic. I felt like I knew the characters. I could see being friends with the brave Hazel and the talented Ben. They felt so real. I loved having a main character who kissed a lot of boys. It’s nice having a main character that isn’t waiting for her first kiss. I also loved her relationship with her brother, Ben. They were close, but also distant enough to be a believable teen brother/sister team.
I kind of hated their parents, though, I think I was supposed to. I can hear a past co-worer in my head complaining about another set of ditzy, artist parents. I have to admit that artist parents are not usually portrayed well in YA. And while I think it’s clear Hazel and Ben’s parents loved them, it’s also clear that they had a very free, strange, and neglected childhood.
I loved Jack too. I love that he takes Hazel to dangerous places and trusts her when she says she’ll be okay. And I love that he’s honest with her when they have a romantic moment. I love how good, yet mysterious he is. The spare moments in his point of view were some of the most interesting parts of the book for me.
I also loved that this wasn’t a simple, linear story. A lot comes out in bits and pieces through memories. So much of Hazel doesn’t make complete sense till the second half of the book when you learn all that she has given up and done. And I guess this is true of Ben too. I love that the characters and story aren’t simple and I had to fit some pieces together myself. I like that Hazel and Ben had to learn to trust each other again (after some serious dark stuff happens when they are kids).
All in all, I loved this book. It was better than expected. The world building was crazy-good. The character development was top-notch. And the nonlinear story all just flowed in its unique eccentricities and pieces. I give it a 10/10.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't always had the best of luck with Holly Black but I'm 100% going to give her more chances. This book specifically is high on my priority list and seeing how much you loved it is all the confirmation I need :D Fantastic review my friend! xx